Friday, August 20, 2010
43. Go Rock Climbing OUTSIDE
So, people might notice two things about this post. First, it's out of order, since the last post was #40. I have to catch up with #41 (Go to Montreal to See the Rogers Cup and Try Poutine) and #42 (Go Paddle Boarding), but this one was so great and so recent I just had to post it now. Which brings me to the second point, which is that I already listed trying rock climbing as a New Thing. But as I discovered yesterday, the different between rock climbing in a gym and rock climbing outside is like the difference between kayaking in a pool and kayaking on the ocean. Totally different experiences, so as far as I'm concerned, it's definitely new. And great.
Once again, I completely lucked out by having friends who are current and former SMC Wilderness Program student leaders. Both Dan and Josh have helped me out with a bunch of New Things on the list -- Dan with classic and skate cross country ski skiing, Josh with snow shoe hiking and both with indoor rock climbing. Dan's been out of town all summer leading kids on kayaking tours, and on Wednesday night during a pizza-eating session with Dan, Josh and Josh's girlfriend Ali, I was whining about how I still hadn't been able to try rock climbing outside, and Dan and Josh stepped into the void. We made a plan to spend the next afternoon at the routes on Lower West Bolton, with Dan setting the ropes for us, and that's what we did.
One of the first things I learned about outdoor climbing is that it's a lot less structured than indoor. In a rock gym there are these paths marked by colors, but outside it's basically up to you to figure out how to get up the rock face however you can, which in my case meant some fairly undignified stretches and using my butt to wedge myself in for more support to give my arms and legs some rest part way up. The routes have some pretty wild names -- we climbed Dead Babies and Wavy Goodby, and just for fun, Dan took us over to the top of Harvest Moon to give us some inspiration of still harder climbs for the future.
If you've never tried rock climbing, I cannot recommend it enough. Every step upward feels like an accomplishment, and it works muscles you literally never even thought about (arms, legs, fingers, toes, and everything in between). It's a wonderful thing to do with friends (and there's nothing like building trust by having your friend holding your life in their hands at the end of a belay rope), and though it's scary, the first time you swing over the side of a cliff on the end of a rope is a huge confidence-builder, I promise.
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Dan (red t-shirt) and Josh (tie-dye) for making the whole climb possible. I also want to thank James, who we met while climbing. He's sitting on the ledge to the right of Dan in the white helmet in one of the photos. He not only tried in vain to encourage me up the last tough step on Wave Goodby (my legs were just too wobbly at that point), he also took two of the pictures I posted here, the one looking down on us from above, and the one of me climbing, which he got by going up a rope to the side of me so that I could have a picture taken closer than the ones from below.
52 Ways to Say I Love You...
In Faroese, the language of the Faroe Islands off of Denmark that are just waiting to be explored the next time I go to Scandanavia. With many thanks to my former student and fabulous host when we were in Copenhagen, Joey, who got this from the father of his homestay family from when he was on study abroad.
Hello Hey/Godan Dag
I love you Eg Elski Teg
Can I have two beers, please? Kann Eg Fáa Tvær Øl?
The moonlight/dawn Camel's Hump Hike is still definitely on for the early morning hours of Saturday, August 28. Beyond that I'm trying to figure out the timing on some other stuff so I'll post in one of the two posts I have to catch up on.